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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: July ::
Re: Getting Children Interested in Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0633  Thursday, 9 July 1998.

[1]     From:   Susan Medina <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 8 Jul 1998 15:38:08 EDT
        Subj:   Re: Getting Children Interested in Shakespeare.

[2]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 8 Jul 1998 19:51:10 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0631  Questions, Questions, Questions

[3]     From:   Billy Houck <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 8 Jul 1998 16:17:43 EDT
        Subj:   Re:  SHK 9.0631  Children and Shakespeare

[4]     From:   Sara Vandenberg <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 8 Jul 1998 14:42:41 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0631  Questions, Questions, Questions

[5]     From:   Thelma English <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 8 Jul 1998 17:51:12 -0700
        Subj:   Young Children and Shakespeare

[6]     From:   John Ramsay <
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        Date:   Thursday, 9 Jul 98 0:33:11 EDT
        Subj:   Interesting Kids in WS


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Susan Medina <
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Date:           Wednesday, 8 Jul 1998 15:38:08 EDT
Subject:        Re: Getting Children Interested in Shakespeare.

In response to the question regarding boosting a child's interest in
Shakespeare, I may have some suggestions for you.  My son is totally
enamoured with Shakespeare and he is only five.  When he was a baby, my
husband used to read all the parts in a play out loud complete with
action to amuse him.  His favorite was King Lear.  Our home town had a
Shakespeare festival in the park and I used to take him every year.  I
also act in every Shakespeare production I can get into and my son often
goes to rehearsal with me.  We have pictures of Shakespeare in the house
and my son just calls him "Bill" like he's a family friend.

On a more conventional scale-there are comic book versions of
Shakespeare that may help whet the appetite of the younger reader.  I
have also recorded the Shakespeare Animated Tales from HBO for my son
and he likes those as well as Scooby Doo or Batman.

I think my son's love of Shakespeare has mainly grown from my own love,
but that is hard to cultivate if your love only encompasses reading and
studying.  Find ways to make your love of Shakespeare more involving and
active.  Most of all cultivate a love of the theatre in your child and
the love of Shakespeare may be able to grow more easily out of seeing
productions.

Best of Luck,
Susan Medina

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 8 Jul 1998 19:51:10 GMT
Subject: 9.0631  Questions, Questions, Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0631  Questions, Questions, Questions

In reply to Drew Whitehead - I've no idea what you do to get children
interested in Shakespeare.  For myself, we lived near Stratford and my
father organised trips there, so at the age of eleven he took me along -
but we sat and read through the plays before we went - my first two
experiences were Laughton's Lear (which I made little of) and Olivier's
Coriolanus, which, I suspect, is an important reason for why I'm now
where I am.  But the same strategy has simply not worked with my own
children....  Best of luck

David Lindley
School of English
University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT
email 
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[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Billy Houck <
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Date:           Wednesday, 8 Jul 1998 16:17:43 EDT
Subject: 9.0631  Children and Shakespeare
Comment:        Re:  SHK 9.0631  Children and Shakespeare

<<2/ Secondly, and more importantly, how does one get children
interested
in reading Shakespeare.  >>

First of all, Miranda will never truly appreciate her father's magic.

That aside, I have found that the best way to expose everyone to
Shakespeare, especially children, is by seeing it live. All my children
have been seeing Shakespeare literally all their lives. Videos are good,
too. Very young children might like the HBO Shakespeare cartoons.

When my daughter was five, she thought Benedick's description of Hero as
"Leonato's short daughter" was the funniest thing she had ever heard. It
caught her right at home.

Never ever assume a child is too young to see a Shakespeare play. If
they're too young to get the loftier poetry and philosophy of Hamlet,
they'll dig the swordplay and romance.

The first Shakespeare play I ever saw was Peter Brook's Midsummer
Night's Dream. I was 15, and thought that was what Shakespeare was
supposed to look like. It left an impression on me that I'm still
chewing on 27 years later.

Just do it. The reading will follow later.

Billy Houck

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sara Vandenberg <
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Date:           Wednesday, 8 Jul 1998 14:42:41 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 9.0631  Questions, Questions, Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0631  Questions, Questions, Questions

As to children and Shakespeare:  When my son was in fourth grade his
class mounted full productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Twelfth
Night (ok, their teacher made some judicious cuts).  I will always
remember my son's inordinate pleasure when, as Hermione's father, he
declared emphatically, "As she is MINE I may dispose of her." Hermione,
a feisty redhead, could not conceal her outrage.  The audience had a
marvelous time, and my son and his classmates loved Shakespeare.

Sara van den Berg

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thelma English <
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Date:           Wednesday, 8 Jul 1998 17:51:12 -0700
Subject:        Young Children and Shakespeare

I write in response to Drew Whitehead, who inquired about interesting
younger children in Shakespeare.  I have two sons myself, ages 11 and
18.

At an early age you can introduce them to Lamb's _Tales from
Shakespeare_ in read-aloud sessions.  Pick up copies of the comic and
cartoon versions.  This helps familiarize them with the plots (themes,
too, if you discuss the stories as you go).  At age 14 we began reading
aloud the plays themselves, with each person taking a part.  Most plays
can be read aloud this way in a longish 4-hour evening session.  We have
always had friends begging to be part of these homey sessions.  It is
easy to get enough readers.  I suppose professional teachers (I am a
home educator) might wince at the MANY pronunciation errors  (we often
find ourselves laughing), but I think they would be pleased at the real
pleasure these young people get from the plays.  Some of the kids'
favorites get read over and over.  We have props, 'stage' actions, and
favorite parts for AYLI.  They quote their favorite lines, underline
them, and memorize entire sections to be used later in private jokes
("Remember when Bill had to play Rosalind because none of the girls
showed up?").  The key seems to be in making it fun somehow.

In our family, you cannot attend the plays until you have read them.
This has provided incentive when the Oregon Ashland Shakespearean
Festival sends out their schedule.  Our boys will read any Folger copy
of a play to gain those very desirable theater tickets.  We have ten
teens coming next Tuesday to read _The Comedy of Errors.  They will sit
in lawn chairs drinking colas and read their parts.  Some will come very
prepared, having read the play and chosen a part.  Some will come and
simply blunder their way through it.  All will have fun, guaranteed.
Try it and have fun!

Thelma English

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[6]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ramsay <
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Date:           Thursday, 9 Jul 98 0:33:11 EDT
Subject:        Interesting Kids in WS

Hi, Drew Whitehead asked about getting young children interested in
Shakespeare. I would suggest an entertaining video version or even an
excerpt, followed by a trip to a stage version.

My son saw the Boar's Head Tavern Scene from Henry IV Pt I and was
amused by the 'big fat guy'. We discussed it at dinner. A few days later
the offerings form Stratford Ontario arrived in my mailbox. Luckily
Henry IV was on that summer. My son was delighted to go on a father-son
trip and we did it every summer for years.

He was 9 when he saw the TV excerpt, 10 when he went to Stratford.
(That's my older son. I could only take my younger one to baseball
games. He did not go to Stratford with me until he was 20.)

John Ramsay
Welland Ontario
Canada
 

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